Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010: The Year in Review

I did this last year and it was good, concise way for me to review the year. If you don’t have the presence of mind to read this, I don’t blame you – it’s mostly for my own memory.  If you do feel like reading about our family and you don’t have to use toothpicks to hold up your eyelids by the end, I commend you. ;)

Here’s this year’s installment:

January:  Hosted a bunch of college friends at our house for a New Year’s reunion.  So nice to see them all again!

February: Traveled to Providence to see my cousin get married.  Luke’s first Valentine’s Day and first hotel stay happened in the same weekend! 

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March: Started Somersizing; lost 10 pounds total.  I’m not currently on that diet, but having to banish all processed foods led me to the clean foods lifestyle that I try to follow now. 

April: Said goodbye to my brother as he left for Iraq (again).  Hosted my family for the weekend.  Luke’s first Easter celebration!  Lindsay and I sell at the flea market and have a great time. 

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May:  Realized we were going to need a “Plan B” as far as Chris’s job went.  Found out the next day from my dad that there was an opening at his company in CT that didn’t need prior experience.  Scheduled an interview for June. 

Lindsay, her DH and I travel to NYC the day after Mother’s Day to go to the Today show!  It was on both of our “bucket lists.”  Got our pictures with Al, Natalie, and Ann, and got on tv.  Ridiculously fun.  :)

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June:  Traveled to CT; Chris applied for the job; found out a week later that he had been given the position and needed to start in August.  Began the bittersweet process of telling friends and family we’d be moving soon. 

July: Celebrated our little guy turning ONE!  We had a party with about 30 people at our house.  Luke contracted a weird eye infection on his birthday and we ended up at the doctor.  Thankfully she correctly diagnosed the weird infection (periorbital cellulitis, anyone?), and quickly put him on strong antibiotics.  Basically he kinda looked like he’d been punched in the eye for a lot of his b-day pics.  Told Luke he’s not allowed to be near any doctors, nurses, or hospitals next July 8th. :)  Luke’s monkey “smash cake” was the first real decorated cake I’d ever made!

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Chris works very little, and eventually has to quit his job this month, so that he (and I) can get our house ready to put on the market.  This process involves tons of things – the biggest being painting the entire outside of our two-story house and garage.  Ugh. Not some of my fondest memories!  Thankful that we have money in savings to live off of during these 4-5 weeks without work.  Given $100 anonymously at church in my diaper bag, which was such a huge blessing.

We had planned an overnight trip to Ocean City, NJ, with our two very good college friends months before we knew we were moving.  We decided that a night away from the stress of the house was good for us – and it was.  Sand and relaxation were wonderful.  I cried to leave Luke alone for the first time, but all in all it was good for us to get away.  It was so much fun….I dearly love all three people in the picture below!

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August:  Our 4-year anniversary came on August 5th but we’re too busy packing up to celebrate it!  House goes on the market on August 12th.  Locked our doors and moved to CT on August 15th, exactly 2 years to the day that we closed on our house.  Chris begins working and I begin the task of being a stay-at-home mom at my parents’ house. My brother returns home from Iraq early and we all move back in the same weekend!  haha! 

We begin searching for our new church home. 

September:  My little sister got engaged and will be getting married next September!  Wedding planning fun begins.  Find a church that we really like but keeping searching, just to be sure.

Find out we have an offer on our house, only to have it fall through after negotiations.  Depressed but staying hopeful.

Celebrate Chris’s birthday and also go to the Big E in Massachusetts, one of my favorite events of the season. 

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October: Visit from my BFF and her little boy.  Spent the weekend showing her the local sights.  So, so, so wonderful to have here her.  Decide to keep going to our church because we’ve totally fallen in love with it!

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Get word that we have a new offer on the house and the buyer wants to close by December 1st, which we negotiate to November 29th (the Monday after Thanksgiving).  It’s lower than we wanted but we accept it as a gift from God in this economy. 

My sister comes home for Fall Break and I finally get to see her ring in person!  We start bridesmaid dress shopping.

Also start going to a MOMS group at my old church, which is a big encouragement and something I wasn’t able to find anywhere near me in PA.

November: Start going to a young couple’s Bible Study through our church; so happy to be meeting other people our age.  Very thankful for the wonderful couples in our group.

Put in an offer on a house in CT we really hoped to get; didn’t work out for us.  Have to keep looking for homes.  Celebrated Thanksgiving here in CT and then traveled to PA to celebrate with Chris’s family from Friday night to Sunday.

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Miracle of miracles, even with some setbacks, we sell our house on November 29th in this terrible economy.  That was a very good day. :)

December:  Celebrated our anniversary and my birthday with a night away in Providence.  Ate at the Cheesecake Factory, went to the Providence Place mall, and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express.

Put in an offer on a short sale that we LOVE; offer was accepted by the buyers and now we are just waiting on the bank!  We pray every day that God will give us this house; it will be a great house for us and our (hopefully soon) growing family.

Go to the company work party; Chris wins a $50 Wal-Mart card through a raffle and I win a $50 Stop & Shop card through a silly scavenger hunt that I WON! I was in it to win it, baby. ;)

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Celebrated Christmas here in CT with my family; traveling on the 30th to PA to celebrate Christmas there.  We will be seeing a close college friend on Friday, then spending New year’s Eve with two our of our dearest friends by going out to eat.  New Year’s Day we will be doing Christmas brunch with Chris’s family, and then we’ll be traveling home on the 2nd. 


It’s been quite the unexpected year, and 2011 will bring lots more adventures to our life!  We’re looking forward to getting a new house, celebrating our 5-year anniversary with a weekend trip away (most likely to Boston), planning my sister’s shower and going to her wedding, celebrating the birth of a new niece on Chris’s side and my BFF’s new baby, and traveling to Ohio for our 5-year college reunion.  Bring on 2011! :)

Thank you so much for reading This Blessed Life in 2010! 

Happy New Year!!!

Top Projects of 2010

Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality is having a link party that I thought would be fun to join.  Here are my favorite projects of 2010, with the links to the actual tutorials in case you’re interested!


My Burlap Tissue Box Cover glammed up cheapie Aldi’s tissue boxes in my bathroom:


I combined a Marshall’s frame and a wedding invitation to make a super-frugal wedding gift for my cousin and his wife:



Thrift store elements combined to make a super-easy framed monogram:

I also transformed a tacky flower arrangement into a topiary for all seasons.

I took the $5 Challenge at Lindsay’s blog and came up with my Ballard grass knock-off using only elements from the Dollar Store:



I improvised a menu-board and a recipe holder for my kitchen with my Double-Duty Chalkboard Frame:

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I gave my “mantel” a beachy look for the summertime, using shells and other items I’ve collected over the years:




My ratty church-sale footstool was given a total French manicure makeover:

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I made my own version of the popular Ballard topiaries:

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I didn’t get to as many projects as I wanted to this year, considering a large chunk of my year was spent painting, renovating, landscaping, moving, and then living with my parents while we wait for the short sale we want.   I seriously CANNOT WAIT to be back in my own place and decorating again. 

Anyway, it was fun to remember some of the projects I did this year.  Head on over to Rhoda’s for some more creative inspiration!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“Things You Should Know About Me….

…If We’re Gonna Be BFFs”

I saw this meme on another blog and thought it would be fun.  :)

I drink skim milk not because I think anything else is gonna make me fat {5 bonus points if you know what movie that’s from), but because anything else that’s thicker makes me gag.

Somehow, I became one of those girls who had serious hair loss after pregnancy and who also got new growth of hair all over my head that’s only currently about an inch long which results in some really funky hair-dos and also causes me no end of stress.  Probably also not helping the hair grow back better, either.


I am definitely a touchy-feely person {as in, I love giving hugs and I’m one of those people that unconsciously touches other people’s shoulders when I talk to them}, but I absolutely cannot stand when Chris rubs a spot on my skin for a long time.  It makes me want to scream.  I didn’t end up going into real labor but I told Chris to please remember not to rub my back in the same spot when I was in pain or I might have to kick him out of the room. ;)

Speaking of backrubs, my neck and shoulders are pretty much permanently sore.  So if you offer to give me a massage I will be your best friend for life. :)

When I was little, I wanted to be called Wendy.

Also when I was little, I thought 17 would be the best age {wrong-my 20s have been way more fun} and that I would be 5’4”, aka: “the perfect height.”  I came up 2 inches short on that one.

If Chris smelled like the cologne they pump out of Abercrombie & Fitch’s vents into the mall, I would definitely not complain.

When I see people throw their cigarette butts out the window when driving, I kinda want to bump their car. 

I have been reading a lot of adoption blogs lately and getting jealous because a lot of mommies are getting to add another child to their family.  I know that my time will come but sometimes I just wish we had a house already so we could hurry the process along!

I love anything and everything pink and when we have a daughter, I am going to go crazy with it.  If she ends up being a tomboy I will probably cry for about a week and then get over myself.

I think “Elf on a Shelf” is one of the most adorable Christmas traditions ever and I can’t wait to do it with Luke next year.

Sometimes I see older women at church with their little shawls or ponchos and I get a little jealous of how warm they must be.  I think I am a little bit of an old soul.  Mostly I can’t wait until I’m old enough to not give a rip about fashion anymore.  Like how fun will it be to wear a Christmas sweater with little bells on it when I’m a grandma?!  haha You think I’m kidding…

Also, I sometimes really wish I was Southern.  But I don’t ever want to leave New England again, so that takes care of that problem!

Do you share any of the same likes or dislikes?? What should I know about you if it were reversed? ;)

Head on over to Little Miss Momma if you’d like to join in, too!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Black Friday Thrifting Finds

Well, Luke is napping (cue Hallelujah chorus), so I thought I’d show some thrifting finds.  My mom, sister, and I always head out to Goodwill on Black Friday, because everything in the store is 50% off.  If you get there between 7 and 9 am, you get an extra 10% on top of that.  60% off at the thrift store? You better believe my butt is in line at 6:45 waiting patiently outside! :)

Half of these pictures were taken outside or inside our storage unit, since we moved 3 days later.  Yes, I was snapping pictures in the storage unit.  My husband really, really loves me. :)

Anyway, on to the pictures!

My most absolutely favorite item was this Pier 1 indoor wicker chair….for TWENTY BUCKS!!! I just want to sit and pet it, I love it so much.  It needs to be re-stained, but I just don’t care.  It’s lovely.

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It came with this cushion, which unfortunately got smooshed before I got a good picture of it:

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I also purchased two soft pillows:

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A beautiful curtain that hopefully my mom will help me make into pillows whenever it is that we finally end up getting our own house someday:

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Super-soft kids-size sleeping bag and green easy chair slipcover:

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Giant mirror that I will hopefully use above a mantel (sideways, of course):

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Caddy (great for storing markers and crayons); super cheap toys and book for Luke.  Some of his Christmas gifts are thrifted.  Hopefully that makes me a frugal mom and not a cheap one. I figure it will be years before he realizes that they’re not from the store, and they will bring him just as much joy!  (Don’t worry, I Clorox everything I get from there.  Even the board books can be wiped down.)

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I love love love this wire basket – it was only about 15 cents on sale!  The birdie may get a spray paint of white and the wooden caddy will also probably hold crayons in a playroom in its future life. 

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Cutie pie lamp and curtain rod:

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Cool circle frame and 3-picture frame.  I am envisioning this “Together” frame spray-painted apple-green or bright orange, for some reason??

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I keep finding these woven wicker balls!  They are so fun and Pottery-Barnish!  Loving them! 

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Lastly, I couldn’t resist this print (even through it’s crooked and I have to shift it) of a little blonde boy painting at the beach.  Too cute.  Perfect for a playroom, which hopefully we will have soon!

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Speaking of a playroom, we found a great house…only to find out that it’s a short sale.  EW.  If you know anything about short sales, you know that the name is highly ironic, because they are anything but short.  We love the house so much that we decided to go ahead and put in our offer last night….however, the bank doesn’t have to respond back to us until FEBRUARY 28TH.  And even then, they don’t have to respond; we can just legally back out of our contract then.  THAT’S SEVENTY-ONE DAYS FROM NOW.  I love my parents but I need to be in my own place again, and I need it SOON.  So Chris and I are going to wait until after the holidays and then talk about getting a month-to-month rental.  Our realtor said he has one that we could rent. 

The frugal side of me knows it would be really smart to save money and stay here, the mommy side of me wants to keep Luke here so he has one less transition in his life, the wife and homemaker side of me really wants her own house to decorate again, and the rational side of me just keeps saying that even if they respond then, we are easily looking at mid-April by the time inspections and all that are said and done and we are moved in. 

The house is worth waiting for…it’s just a question of where we wait….for possibly FOUR MORE MONTHS.  Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Anyone feel like sharing their opinion?  I’m all ears.  Or eyes.  Whatever.  :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holy cannoli, it’s almost mid-December.

Helloooooo!!! *Tap, tap, tap*  Anyone in there?  It’s been over a week since my last blog post…man this month is zooming by!  Is this happening to anyone else?!

I have just been so caught up in busy-ness that every time I thought about sitting down to write a blog post, I had no oomph to do it.  {Sidenote:  There are some “famous” bloggers that blog  Do these women think their blog is going to go up in smoke if that doesn’t happen?  This annoys me and I don’t really know why.  Maybe because I know how long it takes to write up a blog post and I feel like they must not spend any time with their families.  Really none of my business, I know. And then there are the people who have been doing a holiday giveaway  That drives me crazy, too.  WRITE SOMETHING!  Okay, vent over.}

Anyway, so far my December has been pretty good!  Last weekend my DH and I finallllllly got away for the night.  It was so, so much fun, and so relaxing and freeing not to have to worry about Luke for the night.   We promised each other to do it at least once a year. It was kind-of a “belated August anniversary that we couldn’t celebrate because we were moving/yay we finally sold our house/Jess has a birthday” celebration.  We went up to Providence and ate at the Cheesecake factory (our most favorite place to eat) and Chris took me shopping at the mall for my b-day.  We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express outside Providence.  It was extra special to us because we ate at that Cheesecake Factory and stayed at that hotel 4 years ago the day after our wedding when we were waiting to fly out to MEXICO (man I’d like to be there right now, let me tell ya – it is soooo cold outside here in New England!).

Here we are waiting for our table (I had bawled my eyes out about an hour before that for something totally unrelated to anything important; hence the puffy eyes):

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I really wanted to take a picture of our delicious food, but then I thought our waiter might think I was a food critic and I didn’t want to freak him out.  I waitressed for years and believe me, you don’t need any extra stress when you’re doing that job!  We got Greek salad and then two Cajun-style meals.  Chris got cheesecake and I got the 7-layer chocolate cake ---> (they’ve actually changed the name now but that’s what I always get b/c I hate cheesecake and ohmygosh it is so good).

Anyway, I spent my birthday money at Forever 21 at the mall and I got a black coat, a black dress for Chris’s work party, two blue shirts, a cocktail ring, an adorable silver clock necklace, and some pink earrings.

Hmmm…let’s see what else….oh, Chris and I did an Advent reading in front of our whole church last week and I realized afterward that my fly was down the whole time, so that was fun….

On my birthday (last Tuesday), we went out to Applebee’s (they send you a coupon for a free entree on your birthday when you sign up for an e-mail from them).  Luke totally flirted with all the waitresses checking in on the computer, since it was right near our booth.  They were loving him.  It is so fun to go out to a restaurant as a little family!  After that I got a Starbuck’s peppermint mocha and looked at some Christmas lights (I do those two things every year on my birthday). 

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Oh, also on my birthday my son did this in the 30 seconds I ran to the bathroom after I got him up from his nap:  baby powder “snow,” all over the floor.  Totally rolling in it.  Oy. 

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Tonight we are going to Chris’s work party; hopefully it will be fun.  Chris works for the company that my dad works for, so I am sitting with my parents at the party.  Oh yeah baby, my life is coming full circle!  lol  It will be fun to meet some more of Chris’s co-workers.  I’ve been talking to the wife of one of his co-workers on FB but I’ve never actually met her, so that will be nice.  I’m not gonna lie, I’m also a little excited to get dressed up and go out somewhere.  I don’t really get to do that a whole lot anymore! 

The house search is so-so; it kinda feels like we’re batting 1,000 over here!  I keep telling myself that God has the perfect house for us and our budget out there somewhere!  I gotta tell you, today was a first:  this one house had a video camera watching the front door and all sorts of wires and locks downstairs with a sign that said “Mad Scientist” on it.  Ummm, CREEPY MUCH?!  Oh, and yesterday we went into a foreclosure where the people had literally taken EVERYTHING from the house – all the light plates, the mouldings, the ceiling fixtures, the appliances, the closet doors, the screen doors, you name it.  They had actually carved a whole into the drywall to get the bathroom ceiling fan out!  I think that they should get arrested for that, but I digress.

Well, hopefully you’ve had your fill of me for a while after this last post! (haha).  I have about 30 million post ideas in my head but for some reason December is making me feel lazy about my blog.  Hopefully you’re all enjoying the holiday, season, too – I for one am totally enjoying making memories with Luke and watching him take the ornaments on and off the tree all day and night.  :) 

Have a great rest of your weekend! 


Cake image via

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Food I Eat: December ‘09 vs. December ‘10

I haven’t posted a lot recently about my clean eating lifestyle, but I am definitely still on the bandwagon! I was thinking today about how utterly different my food habits are from last year at this time, and I thought it would be interesting to see the comparison all typed out: 

Here is everything I ate today, December 2nd, 2010:

2 whole-wheat buttermilk pancakes {with real maple syrup and real butter}
1 egg with 1/2 slice American cheese
Organic skim milk

Handful of Snyder’s pretzels {all-natural}

Egg salad {with mayo and mustard – I promise it’s really amazing and not gross like it sounds} on 2 slices of toasted Ezekiel bread
Sliced green peppers with 2 Laughing Cow wedges

Coffee {half and half, 2 raw sugar packets, cinnamon}
1/2 of a huge Granny smith apple with some Cabot’s cheddar cheese and all-natural peanut butter

“Nacho Spuds” {a Rachael Ray recipe containing potatoes, beef, black beans, tomatoes, and cheese; topped with sour cream, lettuce, and salsa}
Sweet corn

3 mini lemon poppy-seed muffins and 1 oatmeal cookie {my mom and I were baking tonight, for two different reasons, and I definitely caved and had some sweets.  On a normal night, I definitely wouldn’t be eating this.  If I was hungry after dinner, I’d probably have some pretzels, Greek yogurt with raspberries and honey, or some Stonyfield frozen yogurt. I’m just being honest with you. :) }
Organic skim milk

Here’s how that menu would have looked a year ago, when I was on on the Weight Watcher’s/typical American mindset of fats-are-bad and paying no attention to chemicals in my food:

2 whole-wheat pancakes {topped with Lite Aunt Jemima’s and Smart Balance spread}
2 Egg Beaters with cheese
Non-organic milk {I never thought the extra cost was worth it}

Barbeque baked potato chips
A few sugar-free candies

Egg salad with lite mayo on low-cal {heavily preserved} wheat bread
Peppers and Laughing Cow wedges

Coffee with flavored creamer and Splenda
Apple with reduced-calorie PB, probably no cheese

Dinner would have been the same except I would have been terrified to eat the potatoes and corn {because of carbs}, the cheese and sour creams would have been low-fat, and I would have used msg-laced taco seasoning instead of making my own with spices

Dessert would probably be the same…who am I kidding. ;) If it hadn’t been a baking night, either some lite yogurt with sugary granola on top, or maybe a Skinny Cow sugar-free fudgscicle

I want to shudder when I think about my old eating habits.  And the crazy thing is, I really thought I was healthy!  (Here’s a tip for you: NEVER buy anything that has the word “Lite” in front. Seriously.)

My old diet was loaded with chemical after chemical after chemical.  I ate sugar and never realized it.  I tried so hard to eat low-cal foods, and was so nervous about certain carbs. 

Well, do you want to know the irony of the whole thing?  I am several pounds LIGHTER than I was at this time last year! I eat full-fat, delicious and nourishing foods that keep me full longer.  Don't get me wrong, I would love to lose 9 pounds (and honestly, my tummy area isn’t toned and it really should be), but I have a healthy BMI for my height.  (I still don’t exercise – I know, I really, really, really need to – so really the only thing different is my food.) 

Please don’t misunderstand me – I am certainly NOT a perfect “clean-eater,” as evidenced by my desserts tonight.  For instance, I don’t use flavored creamers anymore on a daily basis, but tomorrow is our monthly Moms group and someone keeps bringing Toffee creamer so I let myself have it once a month or when I’m at a friend’s house.  The key, remember, is always moderation. 

A year from now I’d love to look at my current menu and make even more improvements to it – like learn how to sprout my own grains, etc.  I certainly have a long way to go still.  Like, I know I shouldn’t eat American cheese because it’s so heavily processed, but I really like the taste of it on eggs and haven’t found another cheese that I like as well for eggs yet. 

It’s all a journey and the more I learn about food additives and preservatives, the more inspired I am to keep eating this way. 

So, what about you?  Have any of you made some drastic changes in your diet?  Or maybe you’ve just tweaked a thing or two that you never thought you’d be able to give up? (For me it was coffee creamer – and I’m seriously considering giving it its own post. :)